One dead in fiery big rig crash on Lakeville Highway

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Lakeville Highway is reopen Thursday morning after a fiery big-rig crash the day before that killed the driver and shut down a seven-mile stretch of the roadway.

The route between Stage Gulch Road and Highway 37 had been closed since the 11:45 a.m Wednesday crash.

Petaluma police announced the road's reopening at 5:22 a.m.

The 31-year-old male driver, of Los Angeles, died after his truck drifted off the road and slammed into a tree, CHP officials said. The. crash shut down the rural thoroughfare east of Petaluma. Officers directed traffic away from the area to alternative routes such as Highway 121 to the east and Highway 101 to the west.

The truck crashed just south of Old Lakeville Road No. 2, an area where rows of eucalyptus trees form a tunnel along the highway.

The driver was heading south at about 30 mph when, according to witnesses, the truck drifted off the road and hit the tree, CHP Sgt. Alan Capurro said. The truck caught fire, which quickly engulfed at least two trees and spread across a dry, grassy field.

The driver was unable to get out of the truck, which was destroyed by the fire, Capurro said.

Cal Fire spokeswoman Suzie Blankenship said firefighters quickly stopped the forward progress of the vegetation blaze, which remained small. CHP Officer Curt Lubiszewski said the blaze barely made it to the fence that lines the roadway.

Staff Writer Christi Warren contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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